Nate Smith - Nate Smith
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Nate Smith (Arista Nashville, 2023)

Nate Smith

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

Nate Smith has a wonderful, quivering voice. It's a voice often pushed to its limit, though, because so many of the songs feature pounding drums and roaring electric guitars. It's a whole lot of pounding and roaring because it – like many (too many?) contemporary country albums – is extra-long. The deluxe edition, in fact, sports 26 songs and clocks in at nearly an hour-and-a-half. All this loud music is just a bit much, though, by the time all's said and done.

This may have been one fine record, however, had it been narrowed down to, say, 10 songs or so, and also tamped down a tad. "You Shouldn't Have To," for instance, posits that just because you can do something, doesn't always mean that you should do it. Furthermore, the song's title phrase is used to say that a woman should never "have to wonder if I'll always love you." It's significantly gentler than much comes before it and after it, too. "Sleeve," with its acoustic guitar groove and quiet feel also lets Smith's fine voice shine.

Elsewhere, many of these tracks are marred by poor production changes. For example, the programmed drums on "You Only Want Me When You're Drunk" leaves the song sounding much more like predictable pop-rock, rather than country music. It's too bad there aren't more fun and funny moments, as is found on "One Good Girl. On it, Smith sings: "It's okay as long as you've got/One good girl, two good dogs/Three cold beers, and your Sundays off." This truism expresses the simpler life. If only Nate Smith had also filled this extensive album with quieter and somewhat sonically simpler country music.

CDs by Nate Smith

Nate Smith, 2023

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